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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

Sewickley Academy Does Not Have Everything

At Sewickley Academy, we are proud of the range of academic, athletic, arts, and extracurricular offerings. That said, it is true that we don’t have everything that a student might want in a school, but we do try to be responsive. For example, Sewickley Academy has a varsity squash team because one student felt we should have a team. As you can imagine, one student does not a team make; however, this student recruited other students, found squash courts where this nascent team could practice, and gained “club” status for squash through the athletic department. After a full year of practices and scrimmages, the team officially gained varsity status. This year, after the founder graduated, the team boasts 39 students, and is one of our more popular winter sport alternatives.
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Topics: Head of School

It Pays To Have Responsive Classroom

In a February 26 article in Education Week, Timothy P. Shriver & John M. Bridgeland describe recent research into the efficacy of social-emotional learning programs in schools, including Responsive Classroom (RC), which we have implemented here at Sewickley Academy in Grades Pre-K through 5. Often in education, particularly in the tax-payer funded sector, education programs are judged on a cost-benefit basis, the benefits having to demonstrate themselves most often in improved test scores. This article reviews recent research undertaken at Columbia University that examines the costs and benefits of social-emotional learning programs to determine their financial costs and their economic benefits, if any. The authors conclude:
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Topics: Education, Head of School

I Don't Like Skype

Some people have wondered why on earth Sewickley Academy is moving to implement a 1-to-1 program. Won’t laptops and other devices mean that kids are even more withdrawn from the vital interactions we want them to have with their teachers and peers? Doesn’t this mean that technology will take over the world at SA? To these questions, I answer robustly No! And no! OK, but why?

If you grew up as I did, you were raised in a house with one black rotary phone in the kitchen provided by Ma Bell. This was the big technology, and it was used reverently; in fact, we kids were not allowed to use the phone without permission. Contrast that with the world of today where telecommunications are ubiquitous and texting has overtaken calling as the principal means of communications among teens – and even some adults. What does this have to do with my dislike of Skype? A lot, I think. I am not comfortable with Skype; I don’t like the delays, and I find it awkward to be watching someone on the screen who is looking at their screen and not at me – that is they are looking at the screen and not the camera. 
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Topics: Technology, Head of School

Blended Learning is Not Cyber School

Sewickley Academy’s move to use a “Bring Your Own Device” program to support a Blended Learning environment does not mean that we are becoming a cyber school. Remember, as I indicated in a recent post on this subject, Blended Learning seeks to take the best practices from the online environment and combine them with the best practices from the on-ground classroom.

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Topics: Education, Head of School

Asking Hard Questions about White Privilege

On Thursday, December 4, the Sewickley Series presented a documentary film American Promise that traces the educational journey of two black boys, from Kindergarten through their matriculation to college.  In exploring the sometimes wrenching path these boys followed at an independent school in New York City, the filmmakers (whose eldest son is one of the two boys who are the subject of the film) open their home and their lives to the scrutiny of the outside world and by doing so raise a series of important questions, questions that are important not just for independent schools like Sewickley Academy but questions that are important for us as a nation.  In the aftermath of Ferguson, MO, the Eric Garner case in New York City, and the recent conclusions of a federal investigation into the wrongful death of a 12-year-old child at the hands of police in Cleveland, OH, there is an urgency to our thinking about race and how our various points of view inform the way we see and experience the world.

During the post-film question-and-answer session, an audience member commented that she had on occasion received communications from her sons’ school about boisterous and inappropriate behavior of the kind the boys in the film were also accused of engaging in.  The mom asked, “…wasn’t it possible that, instead of the determining factor being race, it could be that the report of behavior issues was really a function of gender?”  The filmmaker, Michele Stephenson, replied that the research is very clear:  black boys are much more likely to be singled out for behavioral issues than other children and, in fact, that black boys are far more likely to be suspended from Kindergarten than other children.  These comments were affirmed by another panelist, Dr. Todd Allen, professor of communication studies and visual arts at Grove City College, who also serves on his local public school district board.

The parent in the audience, who was white, continued to press her point, to which Stephenson answered, “[sic] you have the privilege of being white, of not having to wonder whether your children are being singled out for their race.”

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Topics: Head of School

While the Facilities Are Great, It Remains about the Teaching &​ Learning

How wonderful to be starting a new school year with a newly renovated Oliver Building for Senior School science and Middle and Senior School robotics! 

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Topics: Head of School

iPads for Teachers? What's Next?

Just before spring break, members of the Sewickley Academy faculty were each issued a brand new iPad Air thanks to an incredibly generous grant from the Home & School Association.  The iPad itself was selected for this program because the machines are light and portable, and most importantly, provide access to the largest array of educational tools of any mobile device currently on the market.  While the iPads, themselves, are cool (there is no denying that), the major thrust of this initiative is to create a “mobile mindset” among our teachers. 

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Topics: Technology, Head of School

Let's Set the Record Straight for Sewickley Academy

On Friday, April 4, a reporter posted "My Take on the Charter School Debate" on the Observer Reporter's blog covering high school sports, The Varsity Letter. The blog is about high schools, particularly charter schools, recruiting athletes. Sewickley Academy's Head of School Kolia John O'Connor wrote the following response to the blog, setting the record straight for SA.

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Topics: Head of School

"The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools" - A Response

 

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Topics: Head of School

We Can Take Our Place in History

On August 28, 1963, 250,000 people gathered on the Mall in our nation’s capital to demonstrate for freedom, for equity, and for jobs. It was on this date that The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the greatest speeches in American history, his “I Have a Dream Speech.” King’s message of hope and resilience was nothing less than a clarion call for change in the face of prejudice, bigotry, and hatred – abetted by the laws of this country.

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Topics: Head of School

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